Insomnia

(Sleeplessness)

Definition

Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It may cause a number of sleep problems including trouble falling asleep, waking in the middle of the night, or waking very early in the morning. It may also be a sleep that is not restful. Insomnia can be a short-term problem, or it can be chronic. Chronic insomnia lasts for more than 4 weeks.

Causes

Insomnia can occur for many reasons. Short-term insomnia is often caused by temporary situations or problems with the environment. They may include:
  • A life crisis or stress, including the loss of a life partner, divorce, or loss of a job
  • Environmental noise
  • Extreme temperatures, such as a room that is too hot or too cold
  • Change in the surrounding environment
  • Sleep/wake schedule problems, such as those due to jet lag
There may be no clear reason for chronic insomnia. It may also be due to other medical or psychiatric conditions. Examples of conditions that can lead to sleep problems include:Both chronic and short-term insomnia may be due to
  • Behavioral factors, including:
    • Misuse of caffeine, alcohol , or other substances
    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Disrupted sleep/wake cycles from shift work or other nighttime activities
    • Chronic stress
    • Excessive napping in the afternoon or evening
  • Certain medications such as:
    • Allergy medication
    • Corticosteroids
    • Blood pressure medication
    • Psychiatric medication

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